10 November 2007

OpenDocument Foundation reversal

At times on this blog I've discussed the open document format (ODF), an XML-based file format intended to be used in office productivity software (word processors, spreadsheets, and the like). This file format would be a completely open standard, and would compete with proprietary file format like those used in Microsoft Office.

A major proponent of this format, the OpenDocument Foundation, has evidently recently decided to dump ODF in favor of an obscure alternative called the Compound Document Format, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium. So now I really don't know what to think. I wonder if the foundation will change its name.

Microsoft (with their OOXML format) must be having a good laugh about this.


GaryEdwards said...


Rather than change the name, the best course of action seemed to be that of shutting the Foundation down. As far back as April of 2007, it had been decided to quietly let Foundation's 501c(3) corporate registration and OASIS membership expire in December of 2007. Just a few weeks away.

On November 8th, 2007 we were invited to conference with IBM concerning the future of CDF, and the very real possibility that CDF would be damaged in the current climate of ODF peasants with pitchforks on a take no prisoners rampage.

It turns out that IBM has a grand strategy based on the conversion of Lotus Symphony ODF to CDF WICD profiles for desktop and mobile uses. The W3C's CDF series of technologies is at the cornerstone of the entire IBM Cloud strategy.

That ODF can easily be converted into CDF and pushed into the web platform cloud, is also a very effective way of handling the troublesome ODF interoperability problems that continue to plague desktop to desktop document exchange.

We agreed. Our approach had been to convert both MSOffice documents and ODF docuemnts to the CDF WICD Full desktop profile and push them across the web platform where the highly interoperable CDF profiles would be useful to anyone competing directly against MS-OOXML documents and the Exchange/SharePoint anchored MS Stack.

With IBM handling the ODF conversion to CDF, we could focus our attention entirely on the MSOffice to CDF conversion. As long as we targeted the same CDF profile, end users would find the interoperability they long for. Even though it would be a web platform oriented interop.

So, no need for the Foundation to finsih out it's last few weeks. If this helped IBM and served in some small way to keep the hordes from tearing into CDF as if it were some kind of threat to ODF rather than a much needed interop solution, then shutting down the Foundation a few weeks early was an easy decision.

The surprise was that the very next day, the lawyer for OASIS came ripping into CDF as a means of discrediting a Foundation that had already been put down.

I guess he didn't get the memo.


mbrisby said...

My thanks to Gary Edwards (founding member of the former OpenDocument Foundation) for taking time to leave a comment.

GaryEdwards said...

founding member also of the OASIS Open Office XML Format TC, November 2002, now known as OASIS OpenDocument Office Format :) Throw the Fellowship in also, June of 2005.